Vanessa Gebbie: Storm Warning – Echoes of Conflict (2010) Literature and War Readalong February 2016

Storm Warning

Very often short story collections are just that – collections of stories that may or may not have a few themes in common. Most of the time, the themes are different, while the voice stays the same. Not so in Vanessa Gebbie’s stunning collection Storm Warning – Echoes of Conflict. The themes —war and conflict— are the same in every story, but the voices, points of view, the structure, the range of these stories is as diverse as can be. That’s why this collection is one of those rare books, in which the sum is greater than its parts. Each story on its own is a gem, but all the stories together, are like a chorus of voices lamenting, accusing, denouncing, and exploring conflict through the ages and the whole world. The result is as chilling as it is powerful and enlightening. I don’t think I’ve ever come across anything similar in book form and the only comparable movie, War Requiem, uses a similar technique only at the very end, during which we see  horrific original footage taken from many different wars, covering decades, and dozens of countries.

We’ve often discussed the question of how to write about war in the Literature and War Readalong and I’ve said it before – if I put away a book and am left with a feeling of  I-wish-I’d-been-there, then the book is a failure in terms of its anti-war message. I don’t think one should write about war and give readers a similar, pleasant frisson, they get when they read crime. I can assure you, you won’t have a reaction like this while reading Storm Warning. Without being too graphic, Vanessa Gebbie’s message is clear – there’s no beauty in war. There’s no end to war either. Even when a conflict is finished, it still rages on in the minds of those who suffered through it. Whether they were soldiers or civilians. War destroys bodies and souls. And—maybe one of the most important messages— war is universal. Including stories set in times as remote as the 16th century, choosing locations as diverse as South Africa, the UK, and Japan, conflicts like WWI, WWII, the Falklands war, Iraq, Vietnam, and many more, illustrates this message powerfully. Choosing from so many different conflicts also avoids falling into the trap of rating. I always find it appalling when people rate conflicts, saying this one was worse than that one. Maybe the methods are more savage in some conflicts, but they are all equally horrific.

What is really amazing in this collection is that so many of the stories get deeper meaning because they are juxtaposed with other stories. For example, there’s the story The Ale Heretics set in the 16th Century, in which a condemned heretic, awaits being burned. Burning people alive was such a savage and abominable thing to do, but just when we start to think “Thank God, that’s long gone” – we read a story about necklacing, a form of torture and execution, practiced in contemporary South Africa (possibly in other regions too), in which the victims are also burned alive. And, here too, it’s said to be in the name of the law. If I had only read the first story, it wouldn’t have been as powerful as in combination with the second.

Vanessa Gebbie’s writing is very precise, raw, expressive. As I said before, each story has a distinct voice. There are men and women talking to a dead relative, others seem to try to explain what happened to them, others accuse, many denounce. Yet, as precise as the writing is, often there’s an element of mystery as to what conflict we are reading about. While it’s mostly clear, what conflict is described, they are rarely named. Interestingly, this underlines the similarity and universality, but it also makes differences clear. When a girl talks to her dead sister Golda, mentions the Kristallnacht, we know, it’s a Holocaust story. When gas gangrene is mentioned, we know it is about WWI.

Many of you might wonder, whether the stories are not too graphic, whether the book is depressing. There’s a balance between very dark and dark stories. There’s a touch of humour here and there, even if it’s gallows’ humour, and there’s the one or the other story that’s almost uplifting like my own personal favourite Large Capacity, Severe Abuse. In this story, a Vietnam veteran lives in the basement of an apartment house for retired army officers. He’s in charge of washing their laundry which gives him an opportunity for revenge. This story illustrates also the invisibility of many veterans. They are decorated, they return, they suffer, but society doesn’t care. Some of the veterans in this collection, end up homeless. Too sum this up— the collection is not easy to read, as it’s quite explicit in showing that war mutilates bodies and souls.

Another favourite story was The Return of the Baker, Edwin Tregear. It’s a story that does not only illustrate the difficulties of the homecoming, but the absurdity of things that happened during the war. In this case WWI and its practice of firing soldiers for so-called cowardice.

Some of the stories describe a narrow escape like in The Salt Box, in which a dissident poet finds an unexpected ruse to destroy his poems when his house is searched.

The narrators and characters in these stories are of different gender and age. Stories that have child narrators are often particularly harrowing. There’s the one called The Wig Maker, in which a child witnesses the execution of the mother, and another one, The Strong Mind of Musa M’bele, in which the kid knows his father will be necklaced. Another kid, in Cello Strings and Screeching Metal, witnesses someone being shot while climbing the Berlin Wall.

Quite a few of the stories are more like snapshots; they are very brief, only a page or two, but there are some longer ones as well.

I must say, I’m impressed. The range of these stories is amazing. Getting voice right and distinct, is a difficult thing to do and to get it as right and as distinct in so many stories is absolutely stunning. This is certainly one of the most amazing and thought-provoking anti-war books I’ve ever read.

Should you be interested, one of the stories – The Wig Maker – is available online. Just a warning – it’s possibly the most explicit of the collection.

Vanessa Gebbie is joining our discussion, so, please, don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Other reviews

Danielle (A Work in Progress)

 

 

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Storm Warning is the first book in the Literature and War Readalong 2016. The next book is the French WWI novel 1914  – 14 by Jean Echenoz. Discussion starts on Thursday 31 March, 2016. Further information on the Literature and War Readalong 2016, including the book blurbs can be found here.

Literature and War Readalong February 29 2016: Storm Warning by Vanessa Gebbie

Storm Warning

The first readalong of this year’s Literature and War Readalong 2016 is very special for several reasons. It’s the first time, I’ve included a short story collection. Then it’s the first book that deals with more than just one conflict. And— I’m particularly pleased about this— the author, Vanessa Gebbie, will join the discussion. Needless to say I’m really looking forward to the discussion and hope that many of you will join.

Since it’s a short story collection I’ve added the first sentences of the first three stories:

The Return of the Baker, Edwin Tregear

Unlike so many, I came home in July. Some of the lads got off the train at Exeter, some at Plymouth. I must have gone to sleep. I woke at Penzance, my stop, when someone shouted, “End of the line, mate.”

Storm Warning

I was on leave.

Telephone call from Istanbul, 3am, Wednesday. Woman’s voice. “StormWarning.”

Gas Gangrene

For the soldiers buried at Tyn Cot Cemetery, Flanders

It’s a sick joke, mate, looking back. You people think gas gangrene was some sort of bloating, a passing blackening of the lungs, a momentary seizing up, that it went as the clouds dispersed.

 

And some details and the blurb for those who want to join

Storm Warning: Echoes of Conflict by Vanessa Gebbie, 120 pages, UK, 2010, WWII

Here’s the blurb:

Storm Warning explores the echoes and aftershocks of human conflict in a series of powerful stories in which the characters are tested, sometimes to breaking point. Gebbie pulls no punches, exploring the after-effects of atrocity and sometimes, the seeds of atrocity itself.

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The discussion starts on Monday, 29 February 2016.

Further information on the Literature and War Readalong 2016, including all the book blurbs, can be found here.

Banana Yoshimoto: Asleep – Shirakawa Yofune (1992)

Asleep

It’s been a while since I’ve last read a book by Banana Yoshimoto, who has always been one of my favourite writers, although I can’t say I loved all of her books. There was always the one or the other that didn’t work as well as a whole, but I always loved her themes and certain elements in every story.

Asleep is a collection of two long short stories (65 and 75 pages ) and one shorter story (30 pages). The stories circle around similar themes. Loneliness, longing, sadness, dreams, sleep, loss, and grief. A character, always a young woman, looks back with longing on a time in her life in which she was with someone she felt very close to or had an intense relationship with. At the time when she tells the story she’s in an uncertain situation. Maybe unemployed, dating a married man, grieving. What the characters in the three stories share as well is that they are visited by the ghosts of beloved dead in their dreams. Sleeping is important in the stories, dreaming can be more intense that staying awake.

Asleep is one of Yoshimoto’s books that I didn’t love as a whole. I loved the dreamy mood, the sorrow and loss, the loneliness and exquisite sadness she described but I found the stories a bit repetitive. Looking back, the three stories blend into each other. The one I liked the most was The Night and Night’s Travellers. The other two could have done with some editing. She moves back and forth in time and occasionally it’s confusing.

Asleep, the title story was interesting as well because I knew someone just like the narrator. A young woman who fell asleep constantly. Or slept for days and days. When you spoke to her, you had the feeling she was never really there. She too, like the main character in Asleep, had experienced something very painful and couldn’t come to terms with it. It was like her consciousness was trying to retreat all the time, shied away from fully confronting her situation. That’s exactly what happens to the young woman in Asleep.

In a way, one could say that these are ghost stories. Not that they are scary but they are eerie and the dead people talk to the living. The dream states are just as real as being awake. Reading this collection, I noticed that while atmosphere is a key element of European ghost stories, in most Japanese ghost stories I’ve read so far, mood is more essential.

While Asleep isn’t my favourite of Banana Yoshimoto’s books, I liked a lot of it and really enjoyed getting re-aquainted with her sadness-infused, eerie stories, in which dreams and dead people play such a prominent role and the characters occupy an in-between world.

This is book four of my 20 under 200 project.

Yasushi Inoue – Three Short Stories

Yasushi Inoue

A review of a collection of Yasushi Inoue’s short stories on the blog 1streading inspired me to look for a book by this author. Luckily I found one just in time, before the end of Tony’s January in Japan. They had a large number of novellas, novels, and short story collections at the book shop. Clearly there’s more available in German than in English. Since I wanted to find out whether he’s an author I want to read more of, I got a collection with short stories first. The book is called Liebe (Love) in German and contains three stories. Translated these would be the titles : Death, Love and Waves – The Stone Garden – The Honeymoon. I’m annoyed that they didn’t bother including the Japanese titles even though I don’t speak or read it. Because of this omission I’m not sure whether you can find translations of these or not.

The first story tells the story of a man who has come to a hotel because he wants to kill himself. It took him some time to find the ideal spot. He wanted a place that was visually appealing and practical; one that would allow him to jump off a cliff and be dead right away. We don’t know why he wants to die at first, we only know that things don’t go according to plan because a young woman arrives with the same idea in mind. I was really wondering whether they would both jump, or if only one of them would do it or whether they would even decide to stay alive. This is such a typically Japanese story. I don’t think that Westerners write like this about suicide. What strikes a Western reader even more than the choice of topic is the reasoning behind the choice. In Western literature people who commit sucide are in great distress, but these two, sound very sober. It’s a question of honor and the logical thing to do. Our narrator looks at his own death from a great distance.

The second story was the one I liked best. A newly married man visits a stone garden with his young bride. The description of the nature and the garden is exquisite. The stone garden is a zen garden that proves to have a stunning effect. Every time the man visits the garden, his life changes completely. This time is no exception.

The last story was the saddest because it captured two absolutely unfulfilled lives. The only thing this married couple had in common was that they both avoided joy and were extremely avaricious. The only sign of their love for each other is that they agree so much in their avarice and that the man follows his wife’s example even after her death.

Yasushi Inoue, it seems, isn’t as widely read outside of Japan although he’s one of the greatest Japanese writers. I wonder why. Maybe the stories are too quietly odd? I thought these stories were a great introduction to Inoue’s work and I know I’ll read more of him. The mix between delicate descriptions of nature and character analysis that seems to have been executed with a scalpel is fascinating. I also loved that it felt strange and familiar at the same time.

If you have read Inoue I’d love to hear which books you’d recommend.

Angela Carter: American Ghosts and Old World Wonders (1993)

American Ghosts

I’m sure we all read because we like a good story but aren’t we equally keen on writing which ignites our imagination? Writing that connects us with our subconscious, our emotions and dreams? Angela Carter knows how to tell a story but more than that, she inspires. She makes us think, explore, dream, fantasize, question. Sometimes it’s not even important to understand every aspect of her short fiction but just to read one of her wonderful sentences, discover one of her splendid images is enough.

The short story collection American Ghosts and Old World Wonders is such a treasure trunk. It’s full of retellings, deconstruction, parodies, reimagining of old myths, fables and fairy tales. It wasn’t always a breezy read. I had to hunt for a few academic papers in order to fully understand the one or the other of the pieces in this book. Like in all of her collections, there were a few stories that stood out and I’ve even found a new favourite.

In this collection Angela Carter mixes myths and elements of the American Dream and/or of America as the land of dreams, the country of  one of the biggest movie industries, the country of serial killers and westerns, of endless possibilities, and juxtaposes these elements with stories from the old world – fairy tales and history. The result is stunning.

The book is divided in two parts. I’d call the first the “American” part and the second the “Old World” part.

Part I

Lizzie’s Tiger is the second Lizzie Borden story she wrote. It shows us a young fearless Lizzie who discovers the magical world of a circus and a tiger who’s living in it. It’s as much an allusion to Blake’s famous poem as it is an imagination of a time when Lizzie was still small and had options to become someone else.

John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore is a pretty tongue-in-cheek and cheeky piece. What if the film director John Ford made British playwright John Ford’s drama ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore into a movie? Well – read her story and you’ll find out what that would be like.

Gun for the Devil is another Western type story set near the Mexican border. Johnny get’s a gun and frees a girl. Sort of. The story contains an allusion to the movie Johnny Got His Gun.

The Merchant of Shadows is my favourite story in the book and has become one of my all-time favourites. A story of decay, exuberance, mystery, set in a decadent Hollywood setting, reminiscent of Sunset Boulevard (one of my favourite movies btw). A young academic comes to interview the widow of the famous film director von Mannheim (he seems inspired by von Sternheim). His widow was once a femme fatale but now she’s in a wheelchair, living with her sister who looks like a cowboy.

Here are is a sample of this deliciously lush and weird story, which contains a lot of Angela Carter’s magic, including metafiction, allusions, cultural references and a lot more:

A flight of rough-cut stone steps led up to a pool surrounded by clumps of sweet-smelling weeds; I recognised lavender. A tree or two dropped late summer leaves on scummy water and, when I saw that pool, I couldn’t help it, I started to shiver; I’ll tell you why in a minute. That untended pool, in which a pair of dark glasses with one cracked lense rested on an emerald carpet of algae, along with an empty gin bottle.

On the terrace a couple of rusty, white-enamelled chairs, a lopsided table. Then, fringed  by a clump of cryptomeria, the house von Mannheim caused to be erected for his bride.

That house made the Bauhaus look baroque. An austere cube of pure glass, it exhibited the geometry of transparency at its most severe. Yet, just at that moment, it took all the red light of the setting sun into itself and flashed like a ruby slipper. I knew the wall of the vast glittering lounge gaped open to admit me, and only me, but I thought, well, if nobody has any objections, I’ll just stick around on the terrace for a while, keep well away from that glass box that looks like nothing so much as the coffin for a classical modernist Snow White; let the lady come out to me.

No sound but the deep, distant bass of the sea; a gull or two; pines, hushing one another.

So I waited. And waited. And I found myself wondering just what it was the scent of jasmine reminded me of, in order to take my mind off what I knew damn well the swimming pool reminded me off – Sunset Boulevard, of course. And I knew damn well, of course I knew, that this was indeed the very pool in which my man Hank Mann succumbed back in 1940, so very long ago, when not even I nor my blessed mother, yet, was around to so much as piss upon the floor.

I waited until I found myself growing impatient. How does one invoke the Spirit of Cinema? Burn a little offering of popcorn and old fan magazines? Offer a libation of Jeyes’ Fluid mixed with Kia Ora orange?

This passage shows something else that strikes me every time when I read Angela Carter – how she is at the same time irreverent and full of admiration for her themes.

I liked the stories in part II a little less.

The Ghost Ships – A Chritsmas Story, I didn’t really get it but it had a few great moments. This opening for example:

‘Twas the night before Christmas. Silent night, holy night. The snow lay deep and crisp and even. Etc. etc. etc.; let these familiar words conjure up the traditional anticipatory magic of Christmas Eve, and then – forget it.

Then In Pantoland – a parody of the way fairy tales have become a pure commodity, robbed of their deeper meaning and sometimes violent aspects due to the way Disney has used them.

Ashputtle or The Mother’s Ghost contains three ways to deconstruct Ashputtle. Very different from Disnye’s Cinderalla.

Alice in Prague or The Curious Room is an homage to a Czech filmmaker. It combines Dr Dee and Alice in Wonderland. Edward Kelly is called Ned Kelly. I didn’t really understand what this figure of Australian history got to do in this text. I really love this passage:

Night was. Widow Night, an old woman in mourning, with big, black wings, came beating against the window; they kept her out with lamps and candles.

Impressions: The Wrightmans Magdalene is the reimagining of the story of Mary Magdalene. It references two artists’ representation: Georges de La Tour’s Mary Magdalene and Donatello’s Mary Magdalene. One a painting, the other a sculpture.

This collection was a wild ride, at times challenging, but mostly really captivating and enchanting.

This is the second review for Angela Carter week, co-hosted with Delia (Postcards from Asia).

PLEASE ADD YOUR OWN REVIEWS TO THE MR LINKY HERE

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On Some Short Stories by Romain Gary

L'Orage

Romain Gary was a Jewish-French novelist, film director, World War II aviator and diplomat. He also wrote under the pen name Émile Ajar. He’s the only author who won the Prix Goncourt twice. Once as Romain Gary for The Roots of Heaven (Les racines du ciel) and the second time as Emile Ajar for Life Before Us aka Madame Rosa (La Vie Devant Soi). 

Romain Gary would have been 100 years old on May 8. That’s why Emma has organized a Romain Gary Month on her blog Book Around the Corner. She’d announced it a while back and I knew I wanted to participate, only I wasn’t sure whether I would have enough time. The books that really interested me were a bit too long. So I did something you should not do when it comes to reading – I settled for a compromise. In this case it meant reading a collection of short stories, knowing well that they would never equal his novels.

It was still an interesting experience as the stories and fragments have been written between 1935 and 1970. Mostly they were written in French but two longer pieces were originally written in English. Gary wrote in both languages and also translated his own work. Or, as Emma wrote in one of her posts, he rewrote them in the other language. The collection shows not only the development of an author but also his wide range. Unfortunately most of the stories and fragments collected here are less than stellar. Notably the two early stories, written at the age of 20, whiff of epigonism.  Both L’Orage (1935) and Une petite femme ( 935) are set in the tropics and I found them to be examples of exoticism. I don’t think that Gary had been in any of the places described at that time. It seems both stories are influenced by Malraux. I was also reminded of Conrad. While I found that exoticism dubious, I liked the way they were told. At this early age, Gary was already well aware how to tell a story. And while both endings are predictable, there’s still very good pacing and build-up.

The other stories written in French are far more original and poignant. Two of them are quite chilling. Géographie humaine (1943) and Sergent Gnama (1946) are inspired by Gary’s own experience as a pilot during WWII and his experience of colonial France. The first – Human Geography – tells the story of a few men reminiscing. Each place they mention equals someone being shot down, wounded or killed. Sergeant Gnama tells the story of an African boy who sings a French song although he can’t speak French. It’s seems he’s learned it from a man called Sergeant Gnama – a ghost in other words.

The Jaded (1970) and The Greek (1970) were the two pieces originally written in English. While The Greek is a fragment and a bit hard to get into, The Jaded is a great, pessimistic and sarcastic story. A man spends his final hours in a place eating burgers. Later he will be shot. He knows this because he’s ordered his own assassination. He thinks he has lost his interest in life but during these hours it seems to be reawakened. If you want to know whether or not he’ll die in the end, you’ll have to read the story.

While this collection wasn’t all that great, I’d like to recommend Gary because he’s a great novelist and for those who love biography, it’s worth reading about this chameleon of a man. David Bellos has written a Gary biography  Gary: A Tall Man that looks interesting. Here’s the blurb

Airman, war hero, immigrant, law student, diplomat, novelist and celebrity spouse, Romain Gary had several lives thrust upon him by the history of the twentieth century, but he also aspired to lead many more. He wrote more than two dozen books and a score of short stories under several different names in two languages, English and French, neither of which was his mother tongue. Gary had a gift for narrative that endeared him to ordinary readers, but won him little respect among critics far more intellectual than he could ever be. His varied and entertaining writing career tells a different story about the making of modern literary culture from the one we are accustomed to hearing. Born Roman Kacew in Vilna (now Lithuania) in 1914 and raised by only his mother after his father left them, Gary rose to become French Consul General in Los Angeles and the only man ever to win the Goncourt Prize twice.

 This biography follows the many threads that lead from Gary’s wartime adventures and early literary career to his years in Hollywood and his marriage to the actress Jean Seberg. It illuminates his works in all their incarnations, and culminates in the tale of his most brilliant deception: the fabrication of a complex identity for his most successful nom de plume, Émile Ajar.

In his new portrait of Gary, David Bellos brings biographical research together with literary and cultural analysis to make sense of the many lives of Romain Gary – a hero fit for our times, as well as his own.

I know that quite a few readers of this blog love memoir as much as I do. Gary’s memoir Promise at DawnLa promesse de l’aube is highly acclaimed. Vishy just reviewed it here.

If you’d like some more recommendations – Emma has posted many suggestions on her blog.

Melissa Banks: The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing (1999)

The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing

I mistook The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing for superficial “chick lit”. At the time when it came out I wouldn’t have picked it up but a week ago I stumbled over a review which made me curious and when I saw that there were some dirt cheap used copies on amazon, I ordered one. I’m so glad I gave in. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this witty book. It’s funny and moving, sad and true, all at the same time. However, I would hesitate to call this a novel. It’s a series of short stories, mostly about the same character – Jane. Some of the stories, like the title story have been published by renowned magazines like Zoetrope. Two have been combined and made into a movie called Suburban Girl, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alec Baldwin. While reading the book I remembered I’ve seen this film. It’s not a must-see. Luckily the stories are much better.

When it came out a few critics wrote harsh reviews, saying Jane was no real character and the book contained nothing but witty one liners. I agree that the book contains a lot of witty repartee and quotable lines but I thought it was anything but flat.

The story I liked best is the first in the collection. It’s called Advanced Beginners. Jane is a very young girl still and love and dating are confusing. Emotions are confusing and she understands how difficult it is to put certain feelings into words. They are too delicate; talking about them could destroy them. The following quote, which I found online, will give you a taste of Bank’s style.

My brother’s first serious girlfriend was eight years older—twenty-eight to his twenty. Her name was Julia Cathcart, and Henry introduced her to us in early June. They drove from Manhattan down to our cottage in Loveladies, on the New Jersey shore. When his little convertible, his pet, pulled into the driveway, she was behind the wheel. My mother and I were watching from the kitchen window. I said, “He lets her drive his car.”

My brother and his girlfriend were dressed alike, baggy white shirts tucked into jeans, except she had a black cashmere sweater over her shoulders.

She had dark eyes, high cheekbones, and beautiful skin, pale, with high coloring in her cheeks like a child with a fever. Her hair was back in a loose ponytail, tied with a piece of lace, and she wore tiny pearl earrings.

I thought maybe she’d look older than Henry, but it was Henry who looked older than Henry. Standing there, he looked like a man. He’d grown a beard, for starters, and had on new wire-rim sunglasses that made him appear more like a bon vivant than a philosophy major between colleges. His hair was longer, and, not yet lightened by the sun, it was the reddish-brown color of an Irish setter.

He gave me a kiss on the cheek, as though he always had.

Then he roughed around with our Airedale, Atlas, while his girlfriend and mother shook hands. They were clasping fingertips, ladylike, smiling as though they were already fond of each other and just waiting for details to fill in why.

Julia turned to me and said, “You must be Janie.”

“Most people call me Jane now,” I said, making myself sound even younger.

“Jane,” she said, possibly in the manner of an adult trying to take a child seriously.

Henry unpacked the car and loaded himself up with everything they’d brought, little bags and big ones, a string tote, and a knapsack.

As he started up the driveway, his girlfriend said, “Do you have the wine, Hank?”

Whoever Hank was, he had it.

I also enjoyed the two stories which were made into a movie, My Old Man and The Worst Thing a Suburban Girl Could Imagine. The narrator is a young editor who dates an older, very famous editor who tries to hide his alcohol problem. It’s just as witty as the first story, but more bitter-sweet.

The title story pokes fun at all those self-help books that promise women will find Mr. Right if they only stick to certain rules. The narrator follows such a rule book and at first the result is funny but then it becomes tragic and she turns into a parody of herself.

I can’t help it but I like a book with quotable lines. I enjoyed most of the stories and to me it even felt like a novel because we see Jane at various stages of her dating life. When it came out it was compared to Bridget Jones but that doesn’t do it any justice. It’s totally different, because tone and voice are so different. Jane sounds mostly laconic. I’d also say The Girl’s Guide … is more literary style wise but with less social/cultural commentary. One should really not compare them. It just goes to show that Bridget Jones was the 90s Gone Girl.